Belly up to mini baccarat

Mar 18, 2003 2:36 AM

One of the most overlooked games in the casino is mini baccarat, which is easy to learn and play while offering a decent shot at winning.

There are two types of baccarat offered in casinos. One is played on a large oval table, usually set apart from the main casino (known as the baccarat pit). Players deal the cards, and usually three dealers run the game. The stakes in this game are usually high. The other game is known as mini baccarat, and it is located on the main casino floor, usually next to the blackjack tables. The table is the size of a blackjack table. One dealer runs the game and also deals all the cards. The stakes for mini baccarat are lower than the regular game. This is where you want to get your feet wet playing baccarat.

To play mini baccarat, simply take a seat, and in front of you on the layout will be two betting spots for making your bet prior to the dealing of the cards. One spot is known as betting on the bank hand; the other, the player hand.

Just place your chip on either the bank or player hand spot. That is all there is to know to play baccarat. The rest is done automatically by the dealer. The dealer will deal two cards face up to each hand, then announce the total of the two hands. One or both hands may draw a third card. Not to worry though, because the dealer will determine which hand requires a third-card draw. Tens and picture cards count zero in baccarat. All other cards count face value. A hand cannot exceed a total of nine. If it does, subtract 10 from the total to get the adjusted total (for example, a seven and eight is a five rather than 15).

Whichever hand totals higher than the other is the winner. If you bet on the winning hand, you will be paid even money. Wins on the bank hand must pay a 5 percent commission, which the dealer will keep track of with markers. You are expected to pay your markers when you are finished playing or at the end of a shoe. The third-card draw rules are different for the bank vs. the player hand, which is why the bank hand (which has a slight edge) must pay the 5 percent commission.

Baccarat can sometimes be a streaky game with several consecutive wins for bank hand and sometimes the same for the player hand. Here is a simple betting strategy to catch those streaks. Just always bet on the hand that won last. If bank just won, bet bank the next hand. If it was the player hand, then bet it. This way, you will always be betting on the hand that is streaking. When you win consecutive hands, increase your bet gradually. As soon as you lose, bet the minimum again and wait for the start of the next streak to start.

There is a tie bet in mini baccarat where you can bet both hands will have the same total. Forget this bet. The casino’s edge is over 14 percent.

Try mini baccarat instead of playing the slots. It’s easy, fun, and with a little luck, you’ll end up for a change leaving the casinos with some of their money.